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TVOC Spotlight - Former UTC Net Champ Ken Koelling


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“With a great setting by the Tennessee River, plenty of food for the players, the prize money and great people who make you feel welcome when you are here makes the TVOC one of the best senior tennis tournaments in the nation. No question about it.â€

-- Former UTC Southern Conference champion Ken Koelling



From running black jack tables on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to working on the Patriot Missile project in the Nevada desert to seeing the world on the satellite tennis tour, former UTC tennis champion Ken Koelling has had nearly as many jobs as Roger Federer has grand slam tennis titles.


The cardiac perfusionist (operates heart-lung machines during surgery) at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, Miss. is back in Chattanooga this weekend for the TVOC Tennis tournament at Manker Patten in hopes of defending his Men’s 45s singles crown.


“Having played tennis at UTC under coach Bill Tym for four years (1976-80) I consider Chattanooga my second home and look forward to playing in the TVOC each year,†said Koelling who is a former Southern Conference singles (No.1 spot in 1977) and doubles champion for the Mocs.


“Playing for coach Tym was a wonderful experience as he taught me so much about the game.â€


Saturday Morning Semis: The top-seeded, Koelling faces No.3 Ed Wagner in one semifinal match Saturday at 9 a.m., while No.2 seed and former U, of Georgia All-American Philip Johnson faces Kevin Potts in the other semis. The finals are Sunday.


Full TVOC Results: go to tvoctennis.com click on Register Online link


Saturday Semifinals – 9 a.m. Men’s Open Singles … 10:30 a.m. – Women’s Open Singles


“This is my first year in the 55s so I am playing 55s doubles with Wes Cash (top seeds), and thought I would see if I could also successfully defend my 45s title against guys 10 years or so younger.â€


Born in St. Louis, Mo., but raised in Starkville, Miss., Koelling ‘s prep report card of straight As at Starkville High and a pair of state singles runner-up trophies earned him an academic scholarship to UTC in the mid-1970s.


“My dad was a chemical engineering professor at Mississippi State so I had a real interest in math and science and playing with the local college players my last two years of high school definitely helped my game as a teenager.â€


After earning an engineering degree from UTC, the St. Louis, Mo. native spent the next decade working at a TVA plant in Scottsboro, Ala., followed by a life as a world traveling tennis pro and working quality control with the Patriot Missile program which led to his current job at Anderson Regional Medical Center.


A second degree in physics and working in radiology technology revealed an interest in surgery which in meant more education at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston in 1994.


“While I was waiting to be accepted in profusion school in Houston I spent a couple of months as a black jack dealer in Gulfport and then back home helping my mom raise greyhounds on the family farm outside of Starkville,†he stated.


While working with doctors in open heart surgeries – 150 a year – he still finds time to stay sharp on the tennis court.


Complementing his 2012 TVOC title, he has two USTA national runner-up finishes in singles and doubles (indoors) last month.


“I am in my first year of the 55s so this is a good time to play some national tournaments,†stated Koelling who plans to compete in the National Clay Courts 55s in Savannah, Ga . in October.


But before a run at a clay court title on the national scene in the fall, a couple of wins on the Manker Patten clay come Sunday would be a good start to the summer.


TVOC Men’s 45s Singles


Quarterfinals – Friday


Men’s 45s Singles

(1) Ken Koelling def. Cessna Decosimo, 6-0, 6-0

(3) Ed Wagner def. Steven Riley, 6-2, 6-2

Kevin Potts def. Corte Iarossi, 6-1, 6-1

(2) Philip Johnson def. George Veith, 6-1, 6-0


Saturday Semis – 9 a.m.


Contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

Edited by bbb
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